As of November 30, 2014, I reached a milestone on my road to staying fit. I ran 1,000 miles since October 8th, 2014! That’s roughly the driving distance from Washington, DC to Miami, FL or from Madrid, Spain to Brussels, Belgium. Instead of just one trip, it took me 221. That averages out to about 4.5 miles per run! My longest run was 13.1 miles when I ran the half-marathon last year in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Besides that, I’ve been keeping my minimum distance to 5Ks or 3.1 miles with an occasional 6-7 mile run every other weekend.
While I started running on a regular basis since early 2012, last year was the first time I decided to keep track of my mileage using an Excel spreadsheet. As I take a step back and look at the above chart, I notice a few things. First, I ran a heck of a lot of miles! However, miles are not the only thing I see. I see events from my life. For example, in December and January, my miles really picked up as I ramped up my training for the World’s Best 10K in Puerto Rico. Then, in March, I ran 87 miles. That is when I met some new friends and fellow runners. I remember every week we would talk about how much miles we covered running all around San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was easier for me to run knowing that someone right next to me is putting over 20 miles every week and seeing them do it!
Suddenly, my miles dropped significantly in July due to an unexpected running injury. I vividly remember my hospital visit to a foot doctor in Puerto Rico. There were a few weeks I could barely walk. This seriously reduced my mileage in July and August. I was literally back on my feet in September. I almost hit my personal best record with 86 miles for the month. As the weather got colder and the holidays rolled around, my mileage declined slightly to 72 miles in November.
At that point I reached one thousand miles. What’s next? A few goals come in mind. I would still like to run 1,000 miles in a calendar year, every year. There’s just something irresistible about running 1,000 miles per year.
Early this year, I really thought that by increasing my mileage I could increase my pace. Instead, I decreased my pace. Running for distance is one thing, but running for speed is different. The main reason why I didn’t run as much races this year is a slower pace. Using Nike’s sport-watch, my average pace running outside has been about 8 minutes and 12 seconds per mile since I started keeping track of my mileage in October 2013. Late last year, I somehow reached a half-marathon pace of 7:31/mile. A big part of why I run is, so I can run fast. One of the few times in my life when I actually felt happy about something was when I was going on a long run and I was getting tired. Suddenly, I would get a second wind, and I would sprint as far as I could at a pace of less than 5 minutes per mile. If that’s not living, I don’t know what is.
Now, I feel like I can barely run a 5K in under 23 minutes. There were some days when my pace has been as slow as 11 minutes per miles! I don’t have a good excuse for this. While it is true that you can’t improve your pace without improving your mileage, a lot more things need to happen.
The main reasons for the decrease in my pace have been weight gain, lack of exercise, weak stretching, and just poor training. It will take a lot of hard work and exercise to get back to my previous pace. Afterwards, I hope to join the sub 7 minute per mile club, which would bring me one step closer to qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
There is no doubt that keeping track of my mileage has improved my performance. What would happen if I started to keep track and measure my time when I am not running? While it took me almost 14 months to run 1,000 miles, it took me countless push-ups and sit-ups to get into shape in order to improve my pace. What would happen if I actually started counting those pushups and sit-ups? What would happen if I started counting the hours I spend studying for my exams? The possibilities are endless. After all, time is our most precious asset, and it would be a shame to waste it.